From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Schools in Mason County, KY

According to Kentucky author Marion B. Lucas, freemen in Maysville, KY opened a school prior to the end of the Civil War. After the war, there were at least four schools in Mason County supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands between 1866 and 1870 [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky]. In 1880, two of the colored school teachers were Annie B. Simpson in Orangeburg and Wyatt N. Stewart in Maysville [source: U.S. Federal Census].

According to Elizabeth Jefferson Dabney, in her thesis The History of Education in Mason County, Kentucky, "There is little statistical material available in regard to the general report of the Negro schools. The only years between 1874 and 1890 for which a report could be found were the years 1880 and 1881" [p. 68].

There were nine colored schools in Mason County in 1880 and 12 schools in 1881 [Dabney, p. 68]. In 1882  one of the colored schools had a high school, and there were 40 students. Principal D. L. V. Moffitt resigned at the end of the school year [see citation below]. In 1891, there were 15 colored schools [Dabney, p. 160].  One of the schools was in Maysville, led by Charles Harris, the principal, and three assistants, Miss Britton, Miss Barbee, and Miss Smith. Another school was in the community of Washington, led by Miss Belle F. Chew from Cleveland, OH; she was assisted by Miss Mary Bookram from Oberlin, OH [source: "About men and women," Cleveland Gazette, 5/9/1891, p. 3].

According to author Dabney, the 1891 superintendent's report stated that most of the teachers at the Mason County colored schools came from Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland, and Steubenville, OH [p. 160]. Other colored schools that existed during the 1890-1891 school term are listed in Dabney's thesis: Dover School No. 106; Minerva School No. 105; Mayslick District No. 101; Charleston No. 109; and Murphysville No. 110 [pp. 171-172]. The Maysville Colored School continued into the 1900s. In 1904 there was a complaint made to the Maysville Board of Education that there were not enough teachers at the colored school [source: "There was no business...," Evening Bulletin, 10/1/1904, p. 1]. In 1915, the Maysville Colored Moonlight School was reported by Cora W. Stewart to be one of the best for Negroes [source: Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky's Moonlight Schools, by Y. H. Baldwin].

In 1925, there were two colored high schools in Mason County [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p. 41]. At the high school in Mayslick, Mrs. L. F. Berven was principal. This school was a Class 3 school with one teacher and 7 students. In Maysville, there was also a Class 3 high school as well as a county training school in Mayslick with Mrs. L. F. Brown as the principal along with 3 teachers who earned an average salary of $853; there were two years of high school and an eight month school term [p. 65]. By 1930, there were eight colored schools, according to Dabney [p. 160].

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Mason County were James Batly, Ethel Boulden, Elizabeth Bowens, Edna Cunningham, Virginia Doley, Charlton Fields, Virgil Ford, Emory Gentry, Tioltha Howard, Jesse R. Howell, Bertie Howell, Helen L. Humphrey, Beatrice Lewis, Eleanor Mathias, Adeline Mlecher(?), Meria J. Smith, and Ida Williams [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The first school to be listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, was the Orangeburg High School (for whites), [p. 441]. Also listed were schools with the notation of "white & integrated": Mayslick High School (previously a school for whites), Minerva High School, Washington Jr. High School, and Maysville High and Center Graded School.

For more see A History of Blacks in Kentucky, by M. Lucas; "D. L. V. Moffitt..." and "Our public schools," both articles in the Evening Bulletin, 6/1/1882, p. 3; "The Colored school commencement in every way excellent - interesting program rendered," Evening Bulletin, 6/14/1902, p. 1; and the c. 1910 photography of the Maysville and Mason County colored schools at the Northern Kentucky Views website.

  • Colored Schools (15)
  • Charleston School
  • Dover School
  • Mayslick - American Missionary Association School, supported by the Bureau
  • Mayslick School
  • Maysville School
  • Maysville American Missionary Association School, supported by the Bureau
  • Maysville Freedmen School
  • Maysville John Fee High School
  • Minerva School
  • Moonlight School
  • Murphysville School
  • Orangeburg School
  • Washington School
  • Washington Freedmen School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Maysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Washington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Orangeburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Charleston, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Dover, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mayslick, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Minerva, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Murphysville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Mason County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-07-08 18:54:37